Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith still plays with a heavy heart. The big-play wideout’s younger brother Tevin was killed in a motorcycle accident less than 24 hours before the Ravens’ week 3 game against the New England Patriots. Smith played on and torched the Patriots, making six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. But it wasn’t easy for Smith.
“I can’t believe my little brother is gone … be thankful for your loved ones and tell them you love them … this is the hardest thing ever,” Smith tweeted after the game.
Smith’s brother’s death weighs on him, but he has used it as motivation, quietly emerging as one of the NFL’s best big-play receivers. Just ask the Patriots or the Denver Broncos. Smith caught a combined seven passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ last two playoff wins.
Smith still hasn’t garnered the same respect as future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, quarterback Joe Flacco or running back Ray Rice, but we’re guessing the San Francisco 49ers will make it their business to account for him on every play.
Fellow wideout Anquan Boldin has also received a fair amount of ink. The play of Flacco, Boldin and Rice, although noteworthy, pales in comparison to how important Smith will be against the 49ers. Smith’s ability to get downfield and beat one-on-one coverage on a regular basis has given Flacco confidence to look downfield more. Expect Baltimore to test the 49ers’ secondary early. Had Smith not emerged as a deep threat, this wouldn’t even be a discussion now because the Ravens would’ve fallen short of the playoffs.
Smith caught touchdown passes of 59 and 32 yards in the first half of the Ravens’ 38-35 double overtime win over the Broncos in the divisional playoff round. Smith’s first half performance opened the door in the second half for Boldin and Jacoby Jones, who caught a combined five passes for 124 yards. Smith may not make the engine go, but he is the turbo boost.
Prediction: Baltimore has enough weapons to spread the 49ers’ offense thin. Baltimore wins a close one: 37-35.